Parents and guardians know that sinking feeling when they wave goodbye to their child at the airport. Unaccompanied minor travel doesn’t come without anxiety, especially when you sit down to book cheap flight deals in the first place. To make things even more complicated, each airline has its own set of policies and practices when it comes to minors traveling alone (especially if traveling internationally). But don’t worry, we’ve sorted through all the terms and conditions to give you everything you need to know before you book.
There Will Be Fees
These days, the airline industry is fraught with fees. From a checked bag to a window seat, fees are a part of the framework of the airline industry. The same can be said when booking travel for unaccompanied minors. You will most likely be charged a set amount for each flight using the unaccompanied minor service. On some major carriers, these fees could amount to $150 each way, while for others it could be as low as $50 each way. Booking for several unaccompanied minors? You don’t have to worry about your bank account draining, as most airlines extend the fee to cover several unaccompanied minors on the same ticket (but you should always check with the airline to be sure they don’t charge for each minor).
Know Your Ages
Before you decide to book a flight for your child, you’ll want to know who the airline classifies as an unaccompanied minor. Most airlines will only offer unaccompanied minor services for a certain age bracket. This bracket can vary depending on your airline. For example, some airlines’ unaccompanied minor policy only applies to kids ages 5 through 11 years old, while for others it’s 5 to 14 years old. Before you book and pay extra fees, you might want to compare airline age brackets. You could save a chunk of change by booking an airline that doesn’t consider your 15-year-old an unaccompanied minor.
Most Airlines Only Allow Unaccompanied Minors on Non-Stop Flights
In the case of almost every airline, you can’t book travel for your child on a route with several connections. Unaccompanied minors can’t change planes or flight numbers in general. There is a way around this rule for some airlines, who will allow unaccompanied minors to take a connecting flight through certain cities. Again, booking travel for your kid all boils down to doing your research on which airline’s policy will fit your needs. If you can only find connecting flights, you’ll want to seek out the airlines that are a bit more lenient on this policy.
Not All Airlines Are Created Equal with Unaccompanied Minor Services
So far, you may have realized that airlines have varying policies and procedures when it comes to children traveling alone. If your child is traveling internationally there are some important documents for them to bring. Children must have the same documents that are needed for adults traveling abroad such as a passport, a visa or any other documentation for entry. If you are unsure of what your documents child will need, consult with the embassy or consulate of the U.S.
Some airlines will offer certain perks to your unaccompanied minor while others will not. For example, some airlines might provide a meal to minors while others won’t. Some airlines will even allow you to keep track of your traveling minor by providing things like barcoded wristbands, so you can see where they are at all times. Parents and guardians booking travel for minors should weigh the benefits of each unaccompanied minor service before deciding on a flight.
You’ll Most Likely Want to Book Morning Flights
To avoid the headache of a delayed or canceled flight for your unaccompanied minor, you’ll most likely want to book a morning flight. That way, even if there is a delay or cancellation, your child will still get out of town. Also, most airlines won’t let you book a solo minor in the last flight of the day or red-eye flights, unless it’s an international journey.
Booking Travel Will Usually Involve a Phone Call
Most of us are used to booking travel with a click of a button. However, in the case of booking for unaccompanied minors, you’ll probably have to make a phone call to the airline’s call center to complete your order.
Traveling alone may be scary for kids, but it can also be a little unnerving for parents and guardians. But keeping these important facts in mind can help you sift through the options quicker and find the best flight for your minor traveling alone.
Have you booked cheap flight deals for an unaccompanied minor before? What other information would you advise parents and guardians to know before purchasing that ticket?